[dropcap]A[/dropcap]s a boy, I wish someone would’ve told me that some people just won’t like you. No matter how nice you are. Some people just won’t like the look of your face.
Take, for instance, Phil. He told the entire school bus I smelled like a filthy pig’s hindparts. Everyone got a big chuckle out of that. I even caught the bus driver, laughing. She blamed it on Phil’s talent for comedy.
To be fair, Phil did have a gift.
Ninth grade: Brittany, from math class hated me. She was three-times my size, and she only knew six words. One word was my name, the other five were swear words.
The teacher took me aside once. “Look honey,” she said. “Don’t take Brittany’s abuse personal. I think she likes you.”
Well, if my teacher’s theory is correct, then old man Jacob must’ve idolized me. Jacob was fifty years my senior. We were a two-man sheetrock crew. The old buzzard treated me like a staircase.
Finally, one day I hit my breaking point.
“Jacob,” I asked. “Why’re you always so mean to me?”
“Because,” he said. “I had a terrible childhood, my daddy called me stupid.” He sighed. “I put you down to make myself feel better.”
“Does it make you feel better?”
“Sure it does.” He shrugged. “Try it yourself. Go on, insult me.”
So I tried.
“Mister Jacob,” I said. “I think you’re the best sheetrocker in the business. And I’ve learned a lot from you. Furthermore, I think you’re pretty smart.”
He looked at me.
“Damn son,” he said. “Now you’re just being cruel.”